Tuesday, July 30, 2002

We were initially told, when they began applying the military law heavily, that it was only to be used only against drug dealers and terrorists. Not it's being used against civil libertarians and a lot of people are now just backing down. Not so many are willing to give up seven years of their lives behind bars.

The quote comes from Hisham Kassem, publisher of the Cairo Times and chief of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights in Cairo, who was interviewed this afternoon on NPR regarding the conviction and seven-year sentence of Egyptian-American professor and human rights activist Saad Eddin Ibrahim for tarnishing Egypt's reputation, among other things.

For anyone out who seriously thinks government (any government) can control themselves when it comes to power, think again. Sure, now it's wanky John Ashcroft and Homeland Security and recruiting truckers across America to call in any suspicious activity. How else can we beat those terrorists, right? But even with our good will and best intentions, laws like the ones being pushed by the Shrub administration could very well turn around and bite us in the ass in a few years. As Kassem said about the law regarding "tarnishing Egypt's reputation":

It's a very loosely worded law which practically apples to 50% of what's written in the press here everyday in Egypt. it's one of those laws you leave on the shelf and then whenever you need to use it against a politically dissident or an independent minded person, it becomes convenient.

I know, Egypt is a Middle Eastern backwater and we're soooooo superior. Maybe. But paranoia knows no borders and if a government feels threatened, we should all run for cover.


On an oddly related note, my good friend Theresa, formerly managing editor of the Orlando Weekly, is moving to Cairo to take over editorial duty at some American language monthly. Hopefully, she'll stick to the safe stuff like calendar listings.

It happens every time I buy a new computer game...I get sucked in for days. This time it's GIANTS, CITIZEN KABUTO, a cool shooter with an Aussie vibe and lots of humor. I'm amazed how much story they get into computer games now. Every "Chapter" is preceded by a short animated movie. This is going to kill days of my life for sure.


For Mac OSX fans out there...I'm pleased to report the new RealMedia player appears to work much better than their 3 previous versions combined (which sucked big time). Also, check out this great little app called Watson (find it at versiontracker.com). Much like OSX 10.2 revised Sherlock feature, Watson offers a multitude of information via a stand alone browser, so you don't actually have to log onto the web. Movie time, weather, news, package tracking, cooking suggestions, currency exchange rates, language translation and more...it's all there and the full-functioning demo is free. Way cool.

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